Friday, February 12, 2010

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

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This story about Ida Mae Jones was an amazing new take on a WWII story.  There are many YA books about the time period, but this one shows us a whole new world - the world of the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots).

Ida Mae lives in Louisiana with her mama, grandfather, and younger brother.  Her older brother is away at medical school, and her father died a few years before in a farming accident.  Ida Mae and her friend Jolene clean houses to make money after graduating from high school.  While Ida Mae cleans, all she can think about is getting enough money saved up to go to Chicago to try to get licensed as a pilot.

She knows all about flying.  Her daddy got a plane and dusted crops.  From the moment Ida Mae went up the first time, she knew she wanted to be in the air, feeling the wind in her hair and seeing the sky all around her.

When the war starts, life changes for all Americans.  Ida's brother goes to war, and Ida learns about the WASP program.  She wants to go so badly but the only problem is that she is black.  "Negro" women aren't even considered for the program, so the only way Ida Mae can join is if she keeps her hair straight and uses her light skin to "pass" as white.  Against the wishes of her mother, she goes to Texas to become a real pilot.  Texas isn't a safe place, though, for a black girl pretending to be a white pilot, and while Ida is confident that she can fly planes, she's not so sure she can pull this off the whole time.

I loved the girls that she joins in the WASP program, especially Lily and Patsy.  All the girls doing men's work reminded me of the movie A League of Their Own.  The girls in the book have a fun time and help each other through life during the war.  This is a great read that shows a wonderful new perspective on a WWII story.

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